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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh will make history in two weeks and will become the first religious officer to be appointed the IDF’s chief of General Staff.
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He will hold the post for 60 days, during which it is possible that he will receive a permanent appointment or will be replaced by a different general.
The son of Holocaust survivors, Naveh was born in Gedera in 1957 and went to high school at the prestigious Netiv Meir Yeshiva in the capital. He was drafted into the IDF in 1975 and climbed the ranks in the Golani Brigade until he was appointed commander of the elite infantry unit in 1991.
He later served as chief infantry and paratroopers officer, and in 1999 was appointed commander of the Gaza Division, a position he held during the first years of the second intifada. In 2003 he was appointed OC Home Front Command and in 2005 he became head of the IDF’s Central Command.
In 2007, Naveh retired from the army after 32 years of service and shortly thereafter was hired as the CEO of CityPass, the consortium that is building the light rail in Jerusalem.
He was brought back to the army in October to serve as deputy to Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, who had been tapped to succeed Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and on Tuesday lost the post.
Naveh’s career has not always been easy. As commander of the Central Command, he oversaw the evacuation in 2005 from four settlements in Samaria as part of the disengagement.
Settlement supporters did not forgive him for his participation in the pullout and right-wing activists began stalking Naveh and held weekly demonstrations outside his home in Givat Shmuel.
Naveh has run into diplomatic trouble during his career. In 2001, following mortar attacks from the Gaza Strip, the IDF launched “Operation Hot Days.” Naveh, who was Gaza Division commander, told reporters that the army would remain in the Strip for “days, weeks or months,” sparking American anger. Then-foreign minister Shimon Peres issued an official clarification.
In 2006, at a conference in Jerusalem, Naveh told an audience of diplomats and foreign journalists that King Abdullah II could be the last king in Jordan. After the remarks made headlines around the world, Prime minister Ehud Olmert called Abdullah to apologize.